Niese Just Wants to Win
Jon Niese approached Terry Collins about pitching out of the bullpen — not the other way around. He'll start doing so this week. #Mets
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2015
Niese has been a starter for his entire career. He made his one and only relief appearance in 2011. This is no small gesture on his part even if he knows it’s his only chance to be on the playoff roster. If he does make the roster, what will his bullpen role be?
Well, for starters, we know, he won’t be a set up guy for Jeurys Familia. Those roles are firmly in the hands of Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard (back willing). If either of them faulter, the Mets could go with multiple inning appearances from Familia or go to Hansel Robles. That means the bullpen spots remaining are long man and LOOGY.
I’m not sure he qualifies as a LOOGY. For his career, lefties hit .262/.314/.397 off of him. This year lefties are hitting .285/.325/.431 off of him. By comparison, lefties are hitting .169/.217/.351 off of Robles. I’m not sure if Terry Collins would be willing to use Robles as a LOOGY in the playoffs.
He may feel inclined to use the only effective lefty reliever he has: Sean Gilmartin. He’s been better than Niese against lefties, but not by much. Lefties hit .264/.316/.341 off of him. It’s probably one of the reasons he became the long man. Gilmartin and Niese will face some competition for that role against Bartolo Colon.
Unlike Colon, Niese is moving to the bullpen now. It’s possible with him being able to max out for one inning, he will be much better against lefties. He may be better against righties for that matter. Niese has occasionally liked to drop his arm angle. If some effectively, he could be another Pedro Feliciano. If not, at least he tried.
Honestly, I hope he makes it. Of all the pitchers on the Mets staff, he’s been here the longest. I’m glad he’s getting his chance. I hope he makes the most of it.